Update: May 10, 2:52 PM - The actual figures are in for this weekends box office and surprise, surprise, "Iron Man 2" generated $128.1 million over the 3-day weekend. That still put the sequel in the fifth slot all time, but the figure was off an eyebrow raising $5.5 million. A discrepancy that big won't be lost on Paramount's competitors.
In hindsight to the original post below, that puts "Iron Man 2" approximately $30 million behind projections before its debut.
Being the first movie out of the gate during the highly profitable summer movie season is never easy, but when you're the sequel to a surprise hit that helped sell a comic book company for $4.3 billion there is even more pressure to deal with. That was the case for "Iron Man 2" this weekend and its strong, but not spectacular estimated gross of $133.6 million.
After the original "Iron Man" grossed an unexpected $98 million on its way to over $318 million two years ago, the expectations were high for the second go around. Robert Downey, Jr. became one of Hollywood's all-time comeback kids (did you think Jude Law was the reason "Sherlock Holmes" became a monster hit?), original director (and fan favorite) Jon Favreau was back, Oscar nominee Mickey Rourke agreed to play the film's villain Whiplash and Scarlett Johansson seemed more than sexy enough to tease teenage boys as the Black Widow. Plus, unknown to many, the Walt Disney company's acquisition of Marvel Studios injected a bit more capital into "Iron Man 2's" budget (a reported $170 million overall) after complaints Marvel's thriftiness embarrassed even the most conservative industry accountants. Oh, and did we mention that ever since the sequel was announced it had been one of the most polled "must see" movies across the board?
So, with a record 4,380 screens at its disposal, industry polling services saying it was off the charts (one service predicted $140 million plus, the other two went for $150 million plus) there was an increasing amount of optimism that "Iron Man 2" would come close to breaking "The Dark Knight's" $158.4 million record. And if not, i would be damn close. Even without the higher ticket prices of 3-D!